Hackers use SEO poisoning Halloween tricks to lure PC users

Halloween-based spam and SEO poisoning was the prime delivery method of cybercriminals pushing fake antivirus and other malware onto PC users.

Topical references to Halloween were used by hackers to trick PC users into downloading Trojans and malware, according to the latest figures from GFI Software.

During October, the company reported high levels of Trojan and rogue antivirus software, with hackers using Halloween-based spam and SEO poisoning as prime delivery methods.

Seven of the top 10 malware threats discovered by GFI Labs' ThreatNet service were classified as Trojans, delivered either through botnets, or by the use of SEO poisoning, exploiting a rise in Internet searches for Halloween-related activities. In this way, users may have been lured into clicking on search results that took them to infected websites pushing fake antivirus software and other malware.

"The malware trends we've seen in the past month illustrate just how easy it is to hijack a fun public holiday and leave innocent people with a very nasty present -- a PC or network infected with a virus," said Tom Kelchner, communications and research analyst for GFI Software, in a statement. "The last month has also brought with it a variety of application vulnerabilities exploited by malicious code, including one in Adobe Acrobat."

Number nine on the Top 10 list is Exploit.PDF-JS.Gen (v), which takes advantage of a vulnerability in an out-of-date version of Adobe Reader and Acrobat. It uses JavaScript to introduce downloaders that install rogue antivirus software or some other malicious code. To avoid it, Adobe Reader or Acrobat need to be updated to the most recent version, 9.4, said GFI.

GFI's ThreatNet gathers information through tens of thousands of users of the VIPRE and CounterSpy antimalware products, which GFI acquired when it bought Sunbelt Software in July 2010.

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